Ensuring product safety is one of the biggest challenges faced by food and beverage manufacturers. At the show, exhibitors will demonstrate equipment designed with food processing and packaging safety in mind.
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the safety of their food—especially if the product hails from another market. While the Australian food industry has a good reputation for supplying safe food, the country has their fair share of food scares and product recalls. According to HACCP Australia, the estimated number of food poisoning occurrences exceeds two million per annum, and there are many more cases of injury from foreign bodies.
The cost effect of these failures is high, and is steadily increasing through harsher penalties and increasingly, litigation. A major food safety incident can also have catastrophic consequences on brand value and customer loyalty. As production speeds increase, so too has the risk of defective products reaching retailer shelves. Usually products are recalled due to undeclared allergens, pathogens, and physical contamination.
While some factors, such as bacterial growth, can never be completely controlled, other safety issues can be addressed and prevented with the right equipment and sound policies and procedures.
Any reputable manufacturer will have measures in place to ensure adherence to strict regulations and guidelines around handling, preparation, and storage of food. Beyond these measures, they are also looking to advanced technology to tighten control on the production line and reduce the risk of product recalls.
At the upcoming edition, food processing safety is a focus, with a range of specialised equipment addressing this significant challenge faced by manufacturers. For instance, visitors can find out more about off-the-shelf and custom built washing solutions, and inspection and detection systems.
In food packaging, seal integrity is an important part of maintaining shelf stability and product safety. A number of exhibitors will demonstrate innovative sealing solutions, like zip-lock closures, tray sealing equipment and tamper-evident shrink sleeves.
In addition, free technology innovation sessions from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) will make up the inaugural Processing Day, 8 March 2017. A must for processors, cutting edge meat technologies, such as advanced sensing, will be at the forefront of this day.
Another focus for the show will be on robotics in processing and packaging. Global and local robotics and automation experts will present the latest dramatic advances in robotic technology and intelligent automation across processing and packaging.
Collaborative robots (cobots) have captured market attention in Australia recently, and a few will 'strut their stuff' at the show. Cobots will change the face of productivity and manufacturing in time. Able to work alongside humans without the need for safety guarding subject to risk assessment, cobots open vast new applications for robot technology. They are easily integrated into existing production environments, and the tasks they are suited for are wide-ranging.
“Applications for cobots are limited mainly by imagination,” says Mark Emmett, managing director of HMPS.
“There is a shortage of labour for repetitive tasks. Robots do an amazing job at doing the same task over and over with complete accuracy. We are finding even smaller producers have a need for automation. We are able to offer from very basic to very complex, customised solutions,” he says.
Working closely with robotic partners ABB, HMPS is now able to offer a new era of robotic co-workers that are able to work collaboratively on the same tasks with humans while still ensuring the safety of those around it. YuMi is the world's first truly collaborative dual-arm robot and it will be on show at the exhibition.
AusPack 2017 will run from 7-10 March, 2017, at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.